Tokyo Big6 Baseball League

The Tokyo Big6 Baseball League (東京六大学野球連盟, Tōkyō roku daigaku yakyū renmei)[a] is an intercollegiate baseball conference that features six prominent universities in the Tokyo area. It is the oldest collegiate baseball conference in Japan. Before the 1936 establishment of the Japanese Baseball League and subsequent growth (after 1950) of Nippon Professional Baseball, the Big6 League was widely considered the highest level of baseball in Japan.

Tokyo Big6 Baseball League
SportBaseball
First season1914
CommissionerAkio Kaneko
HeadquartersTokyo, Japan
RegionKantō, Japan
Most recent
champion(s)
Keio University
(40th title)
Most titlesHosei University
Waseda University
(46 titles)
TV partner(s)Sports Bull, Abema, NHK
Official websiteBig6.gr.jp
Locations
Location of teams in {{{title}}}

All games are played at Meiji Jingu Stadium in Kasumigaoka, Shinjuku in downtown Tokyo. Games are known to be rowdy and celebratory, with cheerleading squads (応援団, Ōendan) and bands working themselves and the crowd into a frenzy.

It is also the origin of the Tokyo 6 Universities (東京六大学, Tōkyō roku daigaku) nickname that is given to the same six universities.

History

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The league has its origins in the Waseda, Keio, and Meiji University League, a three-school conference that began play in 1914 (albeit irregularly). Waseda and Keio had held their first match in 1903. Hosei University joined the league as a guest in 1916 and officially in 1917; the "Four Universities League" expanded to admit Rikkyo in 1921 (becoming the "Five Universities League") and Tokyo in 1925. That year, the suspended Waseda-Keio series was revived for the first time in 19 years, leading to the foundation of the Six Universities League.[1]

In 1926, with the cooperation of the federation, the Meiji Jingu Stadium was completed, and was later expanded to a capacity of 55,000 people in 1931. The Regents Cup was awarded for the fall league match. The league was suspended in 1943 due to World War II, but immediately after the end of the war, on October 28, 1945, a six-college alumni game was held, culminating in a game between Waseda and Keio University at Meiji Jingu on November 18.[1]

Since the end of the US occupation of Japan in 1952, there have been no interruptions in conference play.[1]

On April 1, 2013, the league registered as a general incorporated foundation, the Tokyo Six Universities Baseball Federation.[1]

According to the league's website, 119 players and executives associated with Tokyo Big6 have been inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.[1]

Schedule and rules

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The six teams play short, eight-weekend seasons in the spring and autumn of each year. Each team plays a short series against each of the five other teams in the league. The series format is similar to a three-game playoff, where the first to two wins is given a series victory. Home field is alternated, and all games are played at Meiji Jingu Stadium. Should a team sweep the first two games, the third game is not played.

The champion of the league is determined by the team with the most series victories. The champion team is given the Emperor's Cup. This is unique in Japan in that the other Emperor's cups are given to national champions in other sports such as Emperor's Cup of Football. The spring champion is allowed to participate in the All Japan University Baseball Championship Series while the fall champion is allowed to compete in the Meiji Jingu Stadium Tournament.

The league uses rules that are similar to that of Nippon Professional Baseball's Central League (and, until recently, the MLB National League): the designated hitter rule is not used, and the pitcher is required to bat. Also, unlike American college baseball, non-wood bats are banned.

Members

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Institution Location Founded Joined All-time
record
Titles Last
title
Type Colors
Hosei University Chiyoda, Tokyo 1915 1917 1234–912–132 46 Spring
2020
Private    
Keio University Minato, Tokyo 1892 1914 1271–884–105 40 Autumn
2023
Private    
Meiji University Fuchū, Tokyo 1910 1914 1302–867–117 43 Spring
2023
Private    
Rikkyo University Toshima, Tokyo 1874 1921 972–1180–108 13 Spring
2017
Private    
University of Tokyo Bunkyo, Tokyo 1917 1925 257–1728–63 Public    
Waseda University Shinjuku, Tokyo 1901 1914 1339–804–97 46 Autumn
2020
Private    

Current as of Autumn 2023[2][3]

Champions

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Waseda University victory parade after their 2010 Big6 League victory

Hosei University and Waseda University are tied for the most league championships with 46 each. Meiji University has won 43 times and Keio University has captured 40 league titles. Rikkyo trails with 13, while the University of Tokyo has yet to win a championship.

University Number of championships
Hosei 46
Waseda 46
Meiji 43
Keio 40
Rikkyo 13
Tokyo 0

Current as of Autumn 2023

Rivalry

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Waseda vs. Keio: Sōkeisen

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The series between Waseda and Keio, Sōkeisen (早慶戦[4]), attracts the most attention and is greatly enjoyed by the students, not least because it causes classes at both universities to be canceled.[5] The game is still broadcast on NHK and it is the only series played during the last week of the season.[6]

The Sōkeisen actually predates the establishment of the Tokyo Big6 League by over 20 years, beginning in 1903. The games often caused much tension between the two student bodies, often spilling out of the stadium and leading to the cancellation of games.

The addition of Meiji (1914), Hosei (1917) and Rikkyo[7] (1921) would do little to remedy the rivalry. This state would continue until the addition of Tokyo Imperial University and the official establishment of the Tokyo Big6 Baseball League.

The name is a combination of the two university's names first kanji characters and the character for battle or match, sen (). , is the alternate reading of Wa () in Waseda (早稲田) (also from the short name, Sōdai (早大)), while Kei () is the first character of Keio (慶応).

Notable alumni

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Hosei alumni

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Keio alumni

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Meiji alumni

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Rikkyo alumni

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Tokyo alumni

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Waseda alumni

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Notes

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  1. ^ lit. Tokyo Six Universities Baseball Federation

References

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  1. ^ a b c d e "一般財団法人 東京六大学野球連盟". Big6.gr.jp (in Japanese). Tokyo Six Universities Baseball Federation. Retrieved 15 March 2024.
  2. ^ "一般財団法人 東京六大学野球連盟".
  3. ^ "一般財団法人 東京六大学野球連盟".
  4. ^ It is often reversed, 慶早戦, Keisōsen, by the student body at Keio University.
  5. ^ A victory no longer guarantees the cancellation of classes at Waseda University.
  6. ^ http://www.japannewsreview.com/sports/20070603page_id=51
  7. ^ Though the university officially uses the name Rikkyo University, Rikkyo remains on the team's jerseys. This article uses Rikkyo accordingly.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y 東京六大学野球の面白さ
  9. ^ The Yakult Swallows Home Plate
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